The Carbon Float


Recent studies document rapid changes to the ocean’s biological carbon pump and increasingly acidified oceans. In order to predict future changes to the global carbon cycle, model simulations must accurately represent carbon fluxes. In-situ observations are crucial to pin down important aspects of the global carbon cycle, however historical observations are sparse in both space and time.  Floats with onboard sensors that can measure both particulate organic carbon (POC) and particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) have been developed by a US based program, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). These floats called Carbon Explorers use a modified SOLO (Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer) design float developed by NOPP partners at the Scripps Instrument Development Group.  These floats are returning time series of POC and PIC from the surface to 2000 m depth. To learn more about Carbon Explorer’s download the papers by James Bishop here:

Bishop, J. K. B., and T. J. Wood (2009), Year-round observations of carbon biomass and flux variability in the Southern Ocean, Global Biogeochem. Cycles, 23, GB2019, doi:10.1029/2008GB003206.

Bishop, J.K.B. 2009. Autonomous observations of the ocean biological carbon pump. Oceanography 22(2):182–193, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2009.48.